BREAKING: Tokyo Olympics to be staged without overseas spectators

Japan has attributed about 8,800 deaths to COVID-19 pandemic and has controlled the virus better than most countries.

Abhinav Goel Author

Updated - 20 March 2021 5:54 pm

In a recent development, the IOC and local organizers said on Saturday that spectators from abroad will be barred from the Tokyo Olympics when they open in four months. It was earlier being speculated that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020 this summer could be played without overseas spectators in an attempt to prevent the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. But the same has now been confirmed by officials in the know of developments on Saturday.

The decision was announced after an online meeting of the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government, the Tokyo government, the International Paralympic Committee, and local organizers. Officials said the risk was too great to admit ticket holders from overseas during a pandemic, an idea strongly opposed by the Japanese public. Japan has attributed about 8,800 deaths to COVID-19 and has controlled the virus better than most countries.

IOC President Thomas Bach called it a “difficult decision”

"We have to take decisions which may need sacrifice from everybody and we have to ask for understanding," Bach said. The meeting was attended by Bach, Seiko Hashimoto, International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Japan's Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa.

The president of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto said,

“We could wait until the very last moment to decide, except for the spectators. They have to secure accommodations and flights. So we have to decide early otherwise we will cause a lot of inconvenience from them. I know this is a very tough issue.”

Tickets to be refunded

The Japanese organizing committee said in a statement that it will refund overseas spectators who purchased tickets. About 1 million tickets are reported to have been sold to fans from outside Japan. Organizers have promised refunds, but this will be determined by Authorized Ticket Resellers that handle sales outside Japan. These dealers charge fees of up to 20% above the ticket price. It is not yet clear if the full fees will be refunded.

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